Recruiting the Ranks

Download Audio
photoThe seductive motto is "Be All You Can Be," but the U.S. Army's top recruiter says 2006 could be the toughest year yet for signing up new soldiers since the all-volunteer force began more than three decades ago. The reasons behind the significant drop in enlistments range from the war in Iraq and an improving economy to peer and parental pressures.

Under pressure to meet their quotas, it turns out that recruiters increasingly have been violating Army policy by overlooking or illegally concealing psychological problems and police records of potential recruits. So now the Army is going on the offensive at home, suspending recruitment for one day Friday to retrain recruiters in military ethics and offering a 15-month active duty stint, among other incentives.

The debate over how to tackle the enlistment drought - short of reinstating the draft - has led to some radical ideas. Some experts suggest opening the ranks to undocumented immigrants, privatizing the military, merging the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines, and implementing mandatory military service.

Tune in for a discussion on the debate and the debacle over recruiting the U.S. military ranks.


Damien Cave, New York Times reporter

Maj. Gen. Michael Rochelle, chief of the U.S. Army Recruiting Command in Fort Knox, Kentucky

David Segal, sociology professor and director of the Center for Research on Military Organization at the University of Maryland

Col. David Slotwinski, retired chief operating officer of the U.S. Army Recruiting Command.

This program aired on May 19, 2005.


More from On Point

Listen Live